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Adding a Put to a Covered Call

When you buy a put for a covered call trade, you then have both a sold call and bought put on the stock you own.  This is called a “collar” as you have a  protective put on a covered call.  The classic collar has an at-the-money (ATM) call and put at the same strike price.  In the case of the covered call trader, the  bought put serves as additional downsize protection against a stock price decline.

When you add a put to a covered call trade, you are adding additional cost to the trade.  This will increase your cost basis for the trade. However, you can create a totally riskless covered call trade.  Let’s look at an example using XYZ.

XYZ is trading at $74.77 in the market.  You can sell the 75 Call for $4.20 and buy the 75 Put for $4.00.  If the stock is above 75 at closing, if will be called away and you gain $0.43 in profits (75-74.77+.20).  Additionally, we could sell the put if there is any value left before expiration.  In this scenario, you make money from the covered call side.

If XYZ is trading below 75 at expiration, the call will expire worthless but the put will have value.  You would exercise the 75 put which will give you $75.00 for the stock shares trading below the 75 strike price.  You would then make a profit of $0.43 on the protective put side of the trade.

Stock Price         74.77
Sell 75 Call           4.20
Buy 75 Put           4.00
Net Premium           0.20
Net Cost         74.57
Downside Risk                –
Max Profit           0.43


This trade is a risk-free trade because the total cost basis ($74.57) is below both strike prices of 75.  Regardless of what happens to the stock price, you will receive $75.00 for your stock. You can say that this collar trade is an arbitrage trade because there was a positive difference between the call and put prices at the 75 strike price.  The return of $0.43 is only a 0.58% return.  When you add trading commissions to the cost basis, this can’t be arbitraged by a retail investor.  For more active traders, you can vary your timing of closing the call and put sides to increase your profit.  For example, when the sold call loses the majority of value, you can close this side by buying to close the call.  Then, you will own the stock with the put guarentee at the strike price.  There are numerous possibilities when you actively managed the collar trade if you make adjustments before expiration.

You can construct a similar trade with different strike prices for the call and put.  When you vary the strike prices this, you are changing the cost basis and risk exposure.  For example with the 75 covered call on XYZ, we might buy the 72.5 put for $3.15 (see table below).  This will give us a max profit of $1.05 and downsize risk of $1.22.

XYZ Stock
Stock Price         74.77
Sell 75 Call           4.20
Buy 72.5 Put           3.15
Net Premium           1.05
Net Cost         73.72
Downside Risk           1.22
Max Profit           1.05


The great part about this type of trade is that you are limiting the amount of downsize by using the blanket put.  If the stock market bottom falls out with a 10% correction, you will only lose $1.22 per covered call or 1.65%.

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Covered Call Write on Caterpillar (CAT)

Caterpillar (CAT) reported blow-out earnings on October 24. CAT jumped 5.7 percent to $92.39 and led the Dow higher after the heavy equipment maker reported a quarterly profit that topped estimates on record revenues. Excluding the impacts of the recent acquisition of Bucyrus International, profit was $1.93 per share, up 58 percent from a year ago. Sales and revenues excluding Bucyrus were $14.581 billion, up 31 percent from the third quarter of 2010. Excluding the impacts of Bucyrus, it was an all-time record quarter for both sales and revenues and profit.

STRATEGY: Look at the December 2011 92.50 covered call. For each 100 shares of Caterpillar (CAT) stock you buy, sell one December 2011 92.50 covered call option for a $88.85 (92.35 – 3.50) debit or better. That’s potentially a 4.11% assigned return in 25 days or a whopping 60% annualized return.

TECHNICALS: The technicals for CAT are bullish with a possible trend reversal. The stock is under accumulation with support at 80.76. S&P rates this stock 4 STARS (out of five) – buy.

RISK: The stock has to drop 3.8% to threaten the breakeven point.

PROTECTIVE PUT: For those wishing to protect your downside, buy the May 2012 90 put for $10.35. Buy one put for each 100 shares of stock you own. Sell the put when you exit the covered call trade.

S&P RESEARCH NOTES: S&P reiterates buy opinion on shares of Caterpillar (CAT) . Q3 adjusted EPS of $1.93, vs. $1.22, beats our forecast by $0.19. Revenue gain of 41% was above our 36% forecast, on higher demand in almost all products and geographies. Record Q3 sales and profit results were particularly impressive to us in light of economic challenges in developed nations. CAT’s current trends also lead us to expect ongoing demand growth in ’12. We lift our ’11 EPS estimate $0.05 to $7.35, and ’12’s by $0.10 to $9.20. In light of growing economic uncertainties, however, we trim our target price by $13 to $129, on our revised historical P/E analysis.

Performance of Caterpillar (CAT) stock

Click to enlarge

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